Dr. Jai Maharaj
2017-05-24 16:57:44 UTC
By Betsy McCaughey
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The deadliest superbug yet -- Candida auris -- is
invading hospitals and nursing homes, killing a
staggering 60 percent of patients it infects. Some
exposed patients don't succumb to infection but silently
carry the germ and infect others. So far, the lethal germ
has sickened patients in New York, New Jersey, Michigan,
Illinois and Massachusetts, with 122 cases reported so
far this year, up from only six last year.
The germ -- a fungus -- lingers on bedrails and on the
uniforms and hands of doctors and nurses, ready to attack
the next patient. Once it gets inside a catheter or
breathing device and invades a patient's body, it kills.
Candida auris is already in 15 hospitals in New York,
including prestigious medical centers. Acting Center for
Disease Control and Prevention Director Anne Schuchat
calls it a "catastrophic threat." Strong words, but don't
expect health authorities to do much. They're saying what
they always say -- patients dying from these infections
were already seriously ill. Well, duh. Who else goes to a
Health care infections -- from Candida auris and many
other germs -- kill at least 75,000 hospital patients a
year and five times that number in nursing homes. That's
nearly half a million deaths a year. Politicians talk
nonstop about insurance guaranteeing seriously ill people
access to care. But the biggest risk to these patients
isn't lack of insurance. It's infection.
Infections jeopardize vulnerable patients' access to
organ transplants, cancer therapy and HIV/AIDS
treatments, even if they have insurance.
New York City is ground zero, with three-quarters of the
cases. But the state's health commissioner Howard Zucker
claims Candida auris "poses no risk to the general
public" because it "impacts patients who are already ill
for other reasons." Why write them off?
Watching officials downplay Candida auris is deja vu all
over again. In 1999, researchers revealed the existence
of a killer germ CRE (short for carbapenem-resistant
bacteria) at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. But
state health officials and the CDC failed to act. By
2008, the germ had reached 22 states, often carried by
patients from New York.
Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi